Kokatat Women’s Polartec Power Dry Liner
Size tested: XL
- Height: 5’10”
- Waist: 32”
- Inseam: 32”
- Arm length: 25”
- Torso (tail bone to top of spine):25”
- Hip: 43”
Test Locations: Grand Canyon of the Colorado River and the Kennebec River, Maine.
Days tested: 35
Ever woken up on a cold morning, planning to head to the river, but wanting desperately to stay snuggled up in bed? I certainly have, and the folks at Kokatat have designed a piece to make those cold days on the river easier to contend with.
Kokatat’s Polartec Power Dry Liner is a fleece “onesie” that’s a paddling-specific layering piece to go under dry suits and tops. According to Kokatat, it “provides extra warmth when needed [and] transports moisture away from the body, enhancing comfort.”
Design / Features
The Liner is made of Polartec, a synthetic fleece fabric that is smooth on the outside and brushed on the inside, so it feels soft and fuzzy next to your skin. The arms and legs taper to fitted cuffs and the Liner has a simple crew cut collar/neck.
The Liner has two zippers: a front zipper that runs from my belly button up to my neck, allowing easy entry, and a relief zipper that runs from just below my belly button down between my legs and up to my lower back. The top of the entry zipper is protected by a fleece flap so the zipper pull won’t bother your neck, and both zippers are backed with fleece so that they do not directly touch your skin.
The relief zipper has two zipper tabs that allow you to open it starting at either the front or the back, which is nice because this means it will work with dry suits that have either a front relief zipper or a drop seat. I’ve only worn the Liner when it is cold enough to warrant a full dry suit, but it could certainly be paired with dry pants and/or a dry top as well.
I wear the Liner with my Kokatat Gore-Tex Meridian dry suit (that has a drop seat) and find that the crotch zip on the Liner is a little awkward to deal with when I’m also dealing with the dry suit’s drop seat and often a layer of long underwear under the onesie, all in a squatted position. In my case, I would prefer that the Liner have a drop seat (like the Immersion Research Woman’s Union Suit) so that it would be a little more compatible with the drop seat on my dry suit. The crotch zip on the Liner should work nicely if you happen to own a drysuit with a front relief zipper and use a funnel, however.
Even though I would prefer a onesie liner with a drop seat since my dry suit has one, I cannot overstate how nice it is not to have to fully take off ANY gear in order to pee on a cold day. It is totally worth wrestling with a couple zippers and layers.
In a size XL, the Liner is somewhat big on me in terms of girth, but fits my height well. There is plenty of room around the waist and in the length of the arms and the length of the legs is good, though if they were much shorter, they would be a little too short. Currently they rest just above my ankle bone.
When I do not have my arms in the sleeves I cannot keep the bottom of the onesie from falling down unless I have the arms tied around my waist. This is a minor problem, though, and it could be remedied with the addition of some elastic around the waist.
I always wear a fitted base layer under the Liner, as it’s a little baggy to wear alone, though the warmth provided by the two thermal layers means that I only wear the Liner when the weather and water are very cold. So I’m curious whether a size Large might still fit, but would allow me to wear it alone more comfortably.
I wore the Liner over midweight long underwear on a three week long trip down the Grand Canyon in January, sometimes layering additional fleeces on top. The Liner helped keep my core warm on the coldest days (temps in the 30’s) when we saw very little sun. Generally, once temperatures rose into the 50’s, I was too warm wearing the Liner with other layers, and I switched to wearing a single thermal layer.
The Liner itself is still rather breathable, though. I was able to comfortably go on several short but steep hikes with it on under my dry suit without getting too sweaty and having to unzip my dry suit. And if the Liner fit closer to my skin, I would be more apt to wear it more often, broadening the range of conditions in which I use it.